HE'S BEEN UNLUCKY IN LOVE - BUT SUCCESSFUL ON SCREEN. NOW, HE WONDERS MORE ABOUT THE SOUL THAN SEX. UTE JUNKER MEETS THE HEART-THROB WITH A HEART.
Vincent Perez is a lover. With his soulful eyes and brooding looks, he's a natural for the role: both on screen, in romantic romantic epics like Indochine and Queen Margot, and off, in highly publicized relationships with supermodel Carla Bruni and actor Jacqueline Bisset Both People and Paris Match magazines have proclaimed he's one of the world's sexiest people.
So it comes as a surprise to hear the 32-year-old declare, "I've been living like a monk." The man who once confided, "I'm German from the neck up and Spanish from the waist down," has been living a life of rigid dedication, getting up at 5.30 in the morning five days a week to train for a forthcoming role. Not only that, but one of the big screen's most seductive lovers is currently single - not that he's worried. "I'm a big boy, trying to find my other half," he laughs. "In the meantime, I'm committed to my work."
So far, his work has had to take a back seat to his private life - in the gossip rags, at least. His relationship with older woman Jacqueline Bisset was followed by an affair with Carla Bruni. That liaison reportedly came to an end when Carla was sprung having a fling with Mick Jagger by his wife, Jerry Hall - who promptly forwarded a copy of the evidence to Vincent.
Vincent was badly burned by the ensuing tabloid furore. This is a man who wears his romantic heart on his sleeve; who, when asked what he finds sexy, was quoted as saying, "I'm always looking for a light... I've seen beautiful women, but when you see them up close, there is no light. There is no grace. Sometimes, it's just a voice, it's just a smell. Then you find you're falling in love, especially when there is a light." Not the sort of man who copes with having his lovelife dragged through the tabloids.
"I'm not made for that," he says now. "I feel a bit dirty. It's like being raped. It makes me angry." So will he ever have an affair with someone high-profile again? "I don't think so." This is bad news to the glitterati in New York, where he's moved to help launch his American career. It's the latest port of call in a journey that has taken him from Switzerland, where he was born (to a German mother and a Spanish father), to France, where he worked for over a decade, to locations as far afield as Vietnam and Spain. He dates his love of travel to his childhood.
"When I was a child, one of my favorite things was to go high on a mountain and look far, far away. I love traveling, sponging up one culture after another."
The downside to his nomadic lifestyle is the toll it takes on his personal life. "It's like living on another planet. You're so far away from your own life. It's difficult to be able to keep your personal life going. Your friends are where they are. You can't just reinvent them in other countries."
You can, however; reinvent yourself, which is what Vincent seems to be doing. He's best known as a swooning lover in a series of European epics, most notably sweeping Catherine Deneuve off her feet in Indochine and engaging in a doomed affair with Isabelle Adjani in Queen Margot. But, most recently, you might have seen him as the back-from-the-dead hero of The Crow: City of Angels.
"Indochine is a fairytale, with the two young lovers trying to escape on the boat. Queen Margot is a myth, with kings and princes, and the idea of sacrificing yourself as an act of love. The Crow is a mixture of both. It uses very basic language to create very deep resonances. It's connected to the fear of death, the pain of losing someone close to you. Are you strong enough to keep your soul?"
Has he ever lost anyone close to him? We're treading on dangerous ground here. "I was 12 when my dog, Rex, died. He was my best friend. I saw him lying in the road with his stomach ripped open. It was a violent shock for a kid. I took his head in my lap and held him till he died." Now that's true love.